World News

Technology companies must remove Sydney Massacre footage within 24 hours

Australia’s online content regulator has reached out to all major tech platforms, warning of potential penalties if they fail to remove footage of a recent tragedy.

The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has given social media platforms a 24-hour deadline to delete graphic videos and images from the Bondi Westfield shopping centre massacre that took place on Saturday, as well as the stabbing at a Sydney church on Monday night.

The commissioner has the authority to fine social media companies that allow objectionable content to be published on their platforms.

This action specifically targets material showing “gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.”

Footage of the church stabbing was being live-streamed, while videos from the Bondi attack captured shoppers administering CPR to victims and a photo of the alleged attacker after being shot by police.

Ms. Inman Grant emphasized the urgency of removing such content quickly to prevent its spread and virality online, urging the platforms to act promptly.

Her office has already issued a notice to X Corp and plans to communicate with Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram) soon.

Ms. Inman Grant stated that while most mainstream social media platforms have cooperated, she believes more needs to be done to safeguard Australians from such extreme violent material circulating online.

To enforce the takedown notice, Ms. Inman Grant explained that her office has various powers at its disposal, including civil proceedings or issuing fines if the content is not removed.

Asked about encrypted messaging apps, a spokesperson for the Commissioner’s office mentioned the complexity of the issue but emphasized that platforms should take necessary steps to suppress objectionable content under the Online Safety Act.

Meta Removing Content

Meta confirmed that it has started removing uploads and added the material to its database to prevent re-uploads in the future.

TikTok also responded quickly by activating procedures to manage tragic events within 30 minutes of receiving the news.

X Corp has not publicly addressed the notice and previously refused to pay a fine imposed by Ms. Inman Grant for not responding to inquiries sent in February.

New Laws Planned, Budget Quadrupled

The government intends to introduce legislation later this year that will require social media companies to enhance their policies on false, misleading, or harmful content.

The delay in introducing the law last year was due to concerns about impeding free speech and inadequate protection for religious speech.

Communication Minister Michelle Rowland announced a significant budget increase for the Commissioner’s office to ensure effective regulation and enforcement.

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